Bellator 129 "Neer vs. Bradley" takes place this Friday night (Oct. 17, 2014) at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The main event pits two welterweights from the Hawkeye State against each other who are also well known for their stints in UFC.
Josh "The Dentist" Neer didn't get his name from moonlighting between fights performing oral surgery -- he got it for his ability to leave an opponent's teeth on the canvas. Despite his refined nickname, "The Gentlemen" Paul Bradley is no stranger to the confines of a cage with nearly 30 professional bouts, winning 75-percent of all fights that he takes.
The co-main event could end quickly as both "The Assassin" Houston Alexander and "Rezdog" Virgil Zwicker will be looking for a signature first-round knockout. Alexander was originally scheduled to face fighting legend James "The Colossus" Thompson after Thompson won his Bellator debut against Eric Prindle, but a late injury forced the Brit from their bout.
The two have agreed to a catchweight of 215 pounds for the meeting, which is not likely to last long, as both men are known for having dynamite in their hands.
Check out our full preview of the Bellator 129 main card below:
170 lbs.: Josh Neer (36-13-1) vs. Paul Bradley (21-6, 1 NC)
If you're looking for a crowd-pleasing fight, this one has a lot going for it. Both men are likely to get a huge roar from the partisan Iowa crowd, as Neer hails from Des Moines and Bradley fights out of Tama, and the two are each remembered for having stints in the UFC.
Neer has been on a roll since his last time under ZUFFA contract, winning three straight and claiming the VFC welterweight title by submitting Travis Coyle with an armbar. The 50-bout veteran has faced and beaten highly regarded competitors like Joe Stevenson, Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig, just to name a few.
Bradley may not have as many big names under his belt, but his winning percentage is slightly better than Neer's, who wins 72-percent of his fights, Bradley gets the "W" in 75-percent of his performances. He's faced plenty of tough competition along the way, and when he falls to defeat, it's a fighter the caliber of Luke Rockhold or Rafael Natal that gets the job done.
Bradley's biggest asset is his versatility: a perfect split in wins picked up by submission, decision or knockout with seven apiece. He's also shown a good chin in his fights as only one loss has come via knockout. As Mike Goldberg would say though, "everything else is virtually identical" right down to their age (31), so I'd favor Neer on momentum, as winning three straight beats going 50/50 in your last four.
Final prediction: Josh Neer via knockout.
215 lbs.: Houston Alexander (16-10, 2 NC) vs. Virgil Zwicker (12-4)
If having the hometown crowd on your side is an advantage, Houston Alexander will have it in spades, as the Omaha based fighter and local DJ is extremely popular on either side of the Missouri river. Back in 2007 the world was his oyster with a 8-1 record and back-to-back explosive UFC finishes of Keith Jardine and Alessio Sakara.
Unfortunately for Alexander, fighting an exciting crowd pleasing style has its consequences and he's been KO'd or TKO'd in half of his losses, and fights that go to the ground don't tend to go well for him, either. "The Assassin" is three of his last four, however, and beat Matt Uhde in his Bellator debut.
Zwicker has some significant advantages despite being a late replacement fighter. He's 10 years younger (32 vs. 42) and has a world of experience given that he has been around since 2003. The fact he only has 16 pro fights in over 10 years is something of a wash. He's not active enough to make a dent in a big way, but he's also not taken a whole lot of damage compared to Alexander's brawls.
He is a finisher though, as nine of his 12 wins are KO/TKO victories, with his most notable stoppage being Ovince St. Preux. He'll look to rebound from a disappointing debut at Bellator 122 in Temecula, where Linton Vassell submitted him with a rear-naked choke. Expect a lot of trading on the feet in this one.
Final prediction: Virgil Zwicker wins via knockout.
170 lbs.: James Terry (14-7) vs. Andre Santos (36-9)
"Chatuba" Santos makes his Bellator debut after a literal world of experience in number of fights taken, if not countries fought in. He's largely made his home in Brazil, but Santos last fought in the Battle of Moscow 13, where he stopped Ramil Mustapayev with a second-round knockout.
Terry was a long-time Strikeforce veteran who took a split-decision loss to Bobby Green on his way out of the promotion, never making the transition over to the UFC side of ZUFFA. His win percentage is not the worst in getting a "W" for two out of every three fights, and if it weren't for a split-decision loss in his Bellator debut, he'd be on a four-fight win streak.
Santos has a very long list of submissions and stoppages, but he'll have to prove he can get it done inside the Bellator cage.
Final prediction: Andre Santos wins via submission (guillotine choke).
185 lbs.: Joe Vedepo (16-8) vs. Davin Clark (5-1-2)
Clark has a big test in front of him to open the Spike TV card. The 32 year old American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) prospect only has eight fights to date, so his opponent has seen more losses than Clark has seen bouts. Vedepo has been fighting since 2005 and may be remembered by some for a short stint in UFC (he lost both fights before being released) from 2008-2009.
Clark has versatility with two knockouts, two decisions and a submission, as does Vedepo with six knockouts and seven submissions. Both are on two fight win streaks, but if there's one significant advantage for Vedepo, it's that he has been on the big stage in major promotions, and Clark is the one making his Bellator debut.
Final prediction: Joe Vedepo wins via unanimous decision.
That's a wrap!
Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute weigh-in coverage tomorrow night (Thurs., Oct. 16, 2014), as well as extensive Bellator 129 live results and coverage this Friday evening!